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15 Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions & Answers

Be prepared. Ace that interview. How? Find out what the most common behavioral interview questions are and prepare your answers to avoid any surprises.

Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Career Expert
15 Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions & Answers

Abstract: Behavioral interview questions are questions that deal with specific circumstances from the candidate’s professional experience. Hiring managers like to ask them at job interviews to get more ideas about how a candidate deals with stressful situations. They assess the applicant’s problem-solving, decision-making, and communication skills.

Drumroll.

 

You’ve made it to the next round.

 

You got past the screening process with a strong cover letter and resume, but there’s still a job interview to ride through.

 

You might be a bit nervous… a bit anxious, but that’s easy to overcome—preparing can help you feel more confident and ease your nerves, so make sure you do just that.

 

Find out how to get ready, learn the most common behavioral interview questions, and see the best answers to each. This will help you formulate your own answers that you will deliver with confidence and get on that payroll by Monday.

 

You can do it.

 

In this guide, you’ll find:

 

  • 15 examples of behavioral questions with answers.
  • The best ways to prepare for these types of questions.
  • A step-by-step guide to win the interview.
  • Reasons why certain questions are asked during an interview and what recruiters really want to know.

 

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Before we move on to specific question and answer examples, let’s briefly touch on how to prepare for a job interview.

 

How to Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions?

 

Job interviews are like dentist appointments… you know they’re important, but you hate to go. 

 

Well, luckily, unlike going to the dentist, you can actually prepare for job interviews.

 

Unfortunately, there is no way of telling the future and knowing exactly what kind of questions the recruiter will ask. 

 

But—

 

We can do some guesswork and work with the information that you already have:

 

So, here’s what you can do right before the interview:

 

Preparing For Behavioral Job Interview Questions

 

  1. Research the company and the role in detail. 
  2. Thoroughly analyze the job description to have a better sense of what exactly the employer is looking for.
  3. If you can, find out who your interviewer is. 
  4. Prepare for different types of questions.
  5. Think about previous job experiences that you may want to address during the interview.
  6. Prepare a few questions for the interviewer.

 

Got it?

 

Okay, let’s move on then.

 

So—behavioral interview questions entail the interviewer asking you about how you’ve handled certain work situations in the past. 

 

These are likely to come up in almost all job interviews, as they provide a great opportunity for you to showcase your soft skills, such as teamwork, leadership, emotional intelligence, and people skills. 

 

The Best Method for Answering Behavioral-Based Interview Questions

 

Chances are you’ve already heard of the STAR method for acing a job interview.

 

So just to summarize: STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.

 

Still puzzled?

 

Here’s a short run-through of all the steps:

 

How to Use the STAR Method to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions

 

  1. Situation: Start by briefly describing the circumstances you found yourself in.

 

Example: I was asked to change a 100-participant company Christmas event venue 10 days before the set date.

 

  1. Task: Describe what the end goal (purpose) was in this situation.

 

Example: My manager tasked me with coordinating a venue change along with all other contractors involved: catering, DJ, decorating services, etc.

 

  1. Action: What did you do in response to the problem?

 

 

Example: I did extensive research on local venues that could hold such a big event last minute, negotiated the contract, payment terms and coordinated with service providers. 

 

  1. Result: What were the results of your actions? Did you manage to solve the problem? 

 

Example: I was able to coordinate everything on time, even though the only location available for that date was outside of town. I managed to arrange transport for all attendants without going over budget. 

 

 

See how that works? 

 

The STAR method gives a comprehensive overview of the situation, so you don’t leave off any important details, and the recruiter will have a better understanding of your personality and abilities.

Expert Hint: Getting familiar with this formula will help you structure your answers to any behavioral interview question (unless it’s a very specific programming or engineering question).

15 Top Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

 

As promised, here are 15 most common behavioral interview questions:

 

1. Tell me about a time you failed at a job. How did you handle it?

 

Interviewers like to ask this question to find out if you take responsibility and don't make excuses for failures. So show what you gained from the experience and how you’ve used it to become better at your job.

Good example

Answer: One time I failed to meet the deadline for a project. I had two projects that I was working on, and so I mentally switched the due dates for them in my head. As a result, I was two days late with one of them. After the incident, I started using a calendar app and took more time before delving into projects to prioritize work. I’ve never had a problem with meeting deadlines again.

2. Tell me about a time you initiated a project. 

 

This question tests your competency and ability to initiate things independently. When answering, include strong action words like managed, organized, developed, and launched. 

Good example

Answer: Last year, our company started hiring a lot of new people. As one of the team leaders, I was responsible for the onboarding process. However, I felt that we needed to create a better, more effective training program for new hires. I took the initiative to create a special guide for all team leaders that improved the onboarding procedure. Everyone loved it, and we’ve been using the guide ever since.

3. Give me an example of a time you made a mistake. How did you handle it?

 

When asking this type of question, the interviewer wants to find out if you are capable of growth and learning. So make sure to concentrate on the results of what you did to fix the mistake.

Good example

Answer: At the beginning of my career, I missed a very important deadline, which cost the company an account. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this, but ultimately I was the one who made the mistake. Since then, I kept thinking about what I could have done differently. I came to the conclusion that I wasn't as organized as I had thought I was. I had a one-on-one with my boss, asked for suggestions on how to improve my organizational skills, and a few months later I was able to win an even bigger client for the department.

4. Share an example of a time when you failed to meet an agreed deadline. How did you deal with it?

 

Nobody’s perfect and there will be times when deadlines are missed. The interviewer wants to know how you deal with this type of situation. Do you blame others, or do you take responsibility? 

 

Talk about a situation when you missed a deadline, and explain what lesson you took away from it. What are you doing to keep it from happening again?

Good example

Answer: It was my first time doing a training presentation for a different team. My manager reviewed the first draft / plan of the presentation and I had to make a lot of corrections, both to the presentation itself and the data. On top of that, I had to complete other daily tasks. As a result, I was more focused on getting the presentation done on time and missed a few daily assignment deadlines, which affected other departments. It was a very unpleasant experience, as all my colleagues were behind on their work because of me. Fortunately, I was able to learn from this situation and a few weeks later, when I again had to deal with a heavy workload, I made a list and prioritized by assignments based on level of importance. Overall, I had to do a bit of overtime to complete the work, but I did it. 

5. How do you handle a heavy workload?

 

No matter what the job is, there are always times when the work piles on. When asking this question, a potential employer wants to know how you prioritize your work. Can you stay calm in a heavy-workload environment?

Good example

Answer: At my previous job, I always handled several projects at once and the workload was almost always pretty heavy. To make sure I met all deadlines, I used various apps: to-do lists, reminders, and color-coded calendars that help me keep track of all my duties. I thoroughly review them every morning and organize my day accordingly. If necessary, I delegate a task or two or do overtime.

6. Describe your experience in giving presentations to large groups of people.

 

Some jobs require you to regularly speak in front of a group of people. Generally, the higher the level of the position, the greater the need for communication and presentation skills. Describe a successful public-speaking situation you found yourself in. 

Good example

Answer: At my previous job, I regularly gave PowerPoint presentations about new technology to groups of 15–25 people. Since our company started working remotely, I also conducted online training sessions. I am more than comfortable creating and giving presentations.

7. Tell me about your proudest career moment.

 

Discussing your professional achievements in an interview demonstrates how efficient you are in your job and what you value and what motivates you. Share a moment when you felt extremely proud of yourself. 

Good example

Answer: I worked at my previous job for 1.5 years. During that time, I have learned a lot about the industry and the job itself. I’m very proud of the fact that I started off at an assistant position and, after two promotions, landed a managing role in such a short timespan.

8. Tell me about a time when you had a difficult client interaction. 

 

It's common for interviewers to ask job candidates to describe a time when they had to deal with a difficult client or customer. When answering, you should focus on highlighting your conflict resolution strategies and professionalism in tense situations. What actions did you take in your past jobs to deal with these stressful situations?

Good example

Answer: The most challenging client profile is an overly controlling client. At my previous role, I was working with a client who wanted to control every single step of my work. He kept making changes to the process, didn’t understand the hard facts, and was very stubborn to acknowledging my advice. I held a one-on-one meeting with him to discuss the situation. He apologized for his behavior and explained his concerns and why he acted that way in the first place. After I spoke to him, he toned down on his controlling ways, and I was more understanding of his actions. The project was a success.

9. Share an example of a moment when you completely disagreed with a manager. What did you do?

 

While this question can feel awkward to answer, it’s important that you admit that a conflict has existed in the past. Your answer should explain how you approach challenging situations with superiors. Share an example of a time when you disagreed with a supervisor and how you were able to resolve that conflict. Your answer should demonstrate genuineness, loyalty, emotional maturity and responsibility.

Good example

Answer: During my time at XYZ, my boss and I disagreed on having to terminate one of our sales associates. I felt like I wanted to give him another chance and proposed I would take some extra time with this employee. I presented my boss a 30-day re-training plan, which she agreed to. As a result, this employee’s performance improved by over 50%! He ended up working with us for another eight months. 

10. Give me an example of a time you had to work closely with someone you didn’t get along with.

 

Are you a team player? It’s impossible to get along with everyone, and there will be many situations when you’ll have to work with someone who is difficult. The interviewer wants to know how well you work with people despite differing personalities and quirks. 

 

The recruiter is looking for a few things in your answer: authenticity, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and interpersonal skills.

Good example

Answer: Several months ago, we hired a new team member who was a newly single mom of two. She had a lot of trouble focusing on work, meeting deadlines, and showing up to meetings. As her team leader, I set up a one-on-one with her to discuss how I could help her with the workload. We figured some things out together, and she began collaborating much better after the conversation.

11. Describe a time you were asked to learn something new quickly.

 

No matter what job it is, there will be times when you’ll need to think out of the box or to quickly learn something new. The interviewer wants to know how comfortable you are with high-speed learning and unexpected adjustments. 

 

Respond to the question with a specific example that shows you are open to learning opportunities. Describe a time you had to learn a new technology, approach, or skill. 

Good example

Answer: Our company recently implemented new accounting software. Not only did I have to learn it all myself, but I was asked to train the other team members. I had only 2 weeks to train, so I watched a lot of videos on YouTube and really tried to get a hang of it as fast as I could. Thankfully, I was able to successfully master all the new system’s functionalities and train the rest of the team.

12. Tell me about a time you had to delegate work across an entire team.

 

Even though the answer to this question should demonstrate your leadership skills, focus on other people. Did you give someone a job in order for them to develop a skill? Were you successful at helping others grow as employees? 

Good example

Answer: In my previous role, the customer service team didn’t have set goals that would motivate them. So as their new team leader, I decided to meet with the team twice a month to outline targets and strategies. We had one meeting at the very beginning of the month, where I delegated work to each person and planned out the workload, and then we had a second one around the 15th of each month to ensure everyone was on track and on the same page. The team began to increase their efficiency and our customer satisfaction score went up by 50%!

13. Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news to someone? 

 

Nobody likes to break bad news. Unfortunately, in some jobs it’s inevitable. It’s essential to mention that you plan on rehearsing your answer and that you show compassion when delivering bad news. 

Good example

Answer: I am an empath, so when I communicate bad news to people, I do it with care and honesty. Once I was in a situation where I had to terminate an employee that I’ve had a close friendship with. It wasn’t easy, but I rehearsed what I wanted to say and delivered the news to her without sugar-coating the reasons why. I felt that we both should treat it as an opportunity for growth. 

14. Describe your most challenging project.

 

All jobs have their challenges. That’s why it’s important to show your future employer that you welcome them. Explain what ‘challenging’ means to you and how your skills helped you to successfully finish it.

Good example

Answer: The most challenging project I ever worked on was during my internship, when I was helping to design tools to build an airplane engine. I was supposed to develop a technical manual for the engine’s stand that was so big that we had to ship it in 2 pieces! I had to closely work with the tooling supplier based in Germany and cope with the language barrier and long distance. The project was a success, and it was one of the greatest projects I have worked on so far.

15. Can you describe a time when you had to persuade someone?

 

The ability to persuade someone to agree with your plan has always been a top leadership and communication skill. When answering, describe what techniques you used to convince someone who initially disagreed with you to follow your recommendation.

Good example

Answer: During my last position, I tried to convince the logistics manager to change the organization of the entire warehouse. I proposed an idea, but they didn’t want to do it, because they believed the existing model was effective. So I decided to go a step further and prepared a visualization with some calculations and estimates. I used numbers to show them how much we can shorten the expedition time with the new system. Finally, they were convinced, and we got a green light.

Expert Hint: The most important thing to remember is to answer your questions truthfully and with confidence. Studies show that 39% of candidates get rejected due to low confidence level and lack of eye contact.

Now you know everything about behavioral interview questions and how to answer them, so—

 

Smile, keep your head up, and go get them, tiger!

 

Key Points

 

When preparing for your job interview:

 

  • Get acquainted with the most common behavioral interview questions.
  • Use the STAR method to answer these questions.
  • Think about your past work and educational experience to try to find some examples.
  • Answer truthfully and confidently.

 

Thanks for reading! Still not sure about the best ways to answer behavioral interview questions? Need more info on what are behavioral interview questions and how to prepare your responses? Drop us a line in the comments below, we'll be happy to chat! 

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Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra Makal
Aleksandra is a career expert with a solid professional background in various industries. At ResumeLab, she shares her knowledge, insights and expertise with all applicants looking to make a career move with a perfect resume and cover letter that guarantee recognition and success.

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